Book Review: How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Sicence Denial by Darryl Cunningham

So I’m kinda nerdy and thought this would be a fun, nonfiction graphic novel. Because science. It was mostly just okay. How to Fake a Moon Landing

How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial by Darryl Cunningham

Published:  April 1st 2013 by Abrams ComicArts

Source: local library

Synopsis (Amazon): Is hydro-fracking safe? Is climate change real? Did the moon landing actually happen? How about evolution: fact or fiction? Author-illustrator Darryl Cunningham looks at these and other hot-button science topics and presents a fact-based, visual assessment of current thinking and research on eight different issues everybody’s arguing about. His lively storytelling approach incorporates comics, photographs, and diagrams to create substantive but easily accessible reportage. Cunningham’s distinctive illustrative style shows how information is manipulated by all sides; his easy-to-follow narratives allow readers to draw their own fact-based conclusions. A graphic milestone of investigative journalism!

My thoughts: I put this on hold for myself when I was going through YALSA’s  2014 Great Graphic Novels list to see what my library owned or what I might want to add to our collection. I have enjoyed nonfiction graphic novels and this seemed like a cool topic.

The librarian who previously held my position had ordered it for the adult graphic novel collection, and it has been circulating (obviously—I had to put it on hold) but I do think it is a bit simple and might better be targeted to teens. Of course, the teens at my library devour manga, but aren’t as interested in nonfiction graphic novels, even if they are super-cool.

I’m far from a graphic novel expert, though I am making a concerted effort to become better versed in the format. I find it hard to evaluate the quality of graphic novels because the aesthetic appeal of the art and design seems so subjective, and I am not as familiar with the storytelling conventions that make “good” graphic novels as I am for a novels or nonfiction prose.

In How to Fake a Moon Landing, Cunningham mixes straightforward text with a mix of cutesy line drawings and photographs in six panel pages to debunk science denial. It covers topics such as evolution, chiropractics, vaccines, and climate change.

Though I appreciated how readable it was, I didn’t find it very compelling or captivating. There’s a seeming disconnect between the style, which does seem to be friendly to younger teens, and the content, which I a large segment of the Real Actual Teen population will be interested in. It’s the kind of book that would be a nice supplement to some classroom lessons, but I’d have a hard time pitching it as pleasure reading to a teen when I found it a little dull myself.

Second opinions:

Jason Sachs at Comic Bulletin:How to Fake a Moon Landing is a succinct and direct rebuttal to those who deny the realities of science and reason. It’s a smart and intriguing book. Unfortunately, the book is a bit too concise for the author to make his points extremely well. If Cunningham had either addressed fewer topics in this book or created a longer book, I can’t help but to think it would have been much more satisfying.”

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